Title - 'Littoral Zone: Percussion for Mollusks'
Artist - Julian Gerstin
For those not in the know, for over 40 years, Julian Gerstin has performed and studied a wide variety of music.
His main styles are traditions of Martinique, Cuba, Ghana (Ewe) and Brazil; popular music from those same countries as well as Nigeria, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and other Caribbean islands; Balkan music; and jazz.
He has performed styles ranging from punk to choral music, Mexican son to zydeco, but the main styles are the Caribbean and jazz, with a taste of the Balkans.
He likes music that makes him think. And music that makes him sweat.
Indeed, he performs on a wide variety of percussion instruments: tanbou bèlè, a drum from Martinique; Cuban instruments including conga, bongó, cajón, and shekere; Brazilian samba instruments such as surdo, pandeiro, repinique, timbal and agogo; the tappan drum from Bulgaria/Macedonia; and many others, including washboard and donkey’s jawbone.
His jazz sextet, the Julian Gerstin Sextet, has released two CDs, The One Who Makes You Happy and The Old City. Playing with musicians around the world, Julian has recorded with the afrobeat band Kotoja, South Africa's Zulu Spear, jazz experimentalist Joel Harrison, and Puerto Rican folkloric ensemble Bomba de Aqui.
Ergo, a brilliant and continually creative percussionist, Julian's brand new album, Littoral Zone (out October 15th, 2020), showcases him as a soloist on percussion, berimbau, ocarina, whistles, and wordless vocals.
He is joined on three numbers by Steve Rice on marimba and on one by Anna Patton (clarinet on 'Corculum cardissa'), but otherwise the focus is entirely on Julian.
1. 'Voluta musica'
2. 'Dentalium elephantium'
4. 'Spirula spirula'
5. 'Littorina littorea'
6. 'Corculum cardissa'
7. 'Doris prismatica'
8. 'Crepidula fornicata'
9. 'Volva volva'
11. 'Telescopium telescopium'
12. 'Janthina janthina'
13. 'Hexaplex radix'
14. 'Argonauta argo'
15. 'Diálogo de los caracoles rapidos'
16. 'Vampyrotheusis infernalis'
17. 'Littoral Zone'
Opening with the magnificently atmospheric, jungle-vibed 'Voluta musica,' the tempo rises for the gently frenetic 'Dentalium elephantium,' and them comes the quieter, melodic hipsway of 'Purpura,' the one-two, foot-tappin' beats of 'Spirula spirula,' the drum-led 'Littorina littorea,' and then both the horn-imbued 'Corculum cardissa' and the just-under-a-minute 'Doris prismatica.'
Next up is one of my own personal favorites, the rhythmic 'Crepidula fornicata,' which is followed by the Caribbean-flavored 'Volva volva,' the passively soothing 'Grimpotheusius,' the funky 'Telescopium telescopium,' and then both the jangly percussion of 'Janthina janthina' and the vibrational shuffle of 'Hexaplex radix.'
Bringing the album into its last musical turn, up next is the free flowing, underwater engrained majesty of 'Argonauta argo,' the rawness of 'Diálogo de los caracoles rapidos,' the album closing on the fervent drums of 'Vampyrotheusis infernalis,' and then the staggered horn and drum, gloriously lumbered musical mechanism of the title track itself.
Julian in his own words on this new album:
"I’m a percussionist. I also really like mollusks."
"For the past three years I’ve been recording music for some of my favorite mollusks. Like the aptly named 'Voluta musica.' And 'Littorina littorea,' our beloved periwinkle, tenaciously clinging to rocks at the waterline."
"'Janthina janthina,' which floats around the world’s oceans in a nest of bubbles. The terrifyingly named mini-squid, 'Vampyrotheusis infernalis.' And more. Seventeen songs in all."
"This is my first solo release. My jazz sextet, the Julian Gerstin Sextet (imaginative name, eh?), has two CDs that you can get as rewards with this one."
"I’ve also recorded with afrobeat band Kotoja, jazz experimentalist Joel Harrison, Puerto Rican folkloric ensemble Bomba de Aquí, and many others. (None of those groups make songs about mollusks.)"
"The music on Littoral Zone draws from my experiences with folkloric and band styles from Cuba, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Brazil, Colombia, Ghana, Turkey, Egypt, Bulgaria."
"The music may evoke some of those traditions, but it's from none of them. The rhythms, combinations of instruments, and musical forms are all invented."
"Shout outs to Steve Rice for adding marimba to three tracks, and Anna Patton for clarinet on 'Corculum cardissa,' the heart cockle."
Julian Gerstin: percussion, vocals, berimbau, ocarina, whistles
Anna Patton: clarinet on 'Corculum cardissa'
Steve Rice: marimba on 'Purpura,', 'Grimpotheusis,' 'Argonauta argo'